c 1250 Bible Leaf - John - "I am the bread of life..."


Original leaf from an illuminated medieval manuscript pocket Bible, written in Italy (probably Bologna), c. 1250. Latin rotunda gothic script, ruled in red & written in brown ink in two columns of 50 lines on animal vellum.(197x130mm – 7 7/8 x 5 1/8’’) It is from a “portable” Bible during the period of the Crusades,  and would have been used in the abstract study of theology or the preaching of the Gospel around the medieval countryside.

Rubricated chapter numbers, two multi-lined illuminated Lombard style initials and elegant marginalia in red and blue. The gothic text is written in extremely tiny & very well formed letters – so small that there are ten lines of text to the inch! 

This leaf contains John 6:30 – 8:24: “[Dixe]runt ergo ei…” (They said therefore to him: What sign therefore dost thou show, that we may see, and may believe thee…I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger: and he that believeth in me shall never thirst…He that believeth in me, hath everlasting life…Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you…He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her…I am the light of the world: he that followeth me walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life…You are of this world, I am not of this world...). 

Provenance: Ex-collection Otto Ege (1888-1951). Dean of the Cleveland Institute of Art and Lecturer on History of the Book  at Western Reserve University and Northwestern University. Ege increased awareness of the history of the book through the dissemination of individual pages to schools, libraries, calligraphers and printers. Sister leaves are # 11 in the Portfolio of Fifty Original Leaves (Gwara HL11) - see Cary Collection  - Rochester Institute (online example) and other museums.

This is an original manuscript leaf with tiny, precise script. It is more than 750 years old, not a reproduction, and its condition is excellent as shown in the photos. The vellum is very clean, and of high quality. There is a crease in the upper left column with a small tear in the blank margin (no loss of text).

Presented in an archival 14 x 11'' mat

  • Inventory# IM-11116